Going through amputation surgery is never easy, but coping with this difficult decision while battling cancer would overwhelm even the strongest among us. This was the difficult road that Charles (or Chuck as he prefers) went down in December of 2016. Chuck knew that he had Peripheral Artery Disease (or PAD), and 8-9 years ago underwent angioplasty surgery which had been working. Then, his right foot began losing circulation and began to hurt. Doctors tried everything they could to save his leg, but finally, he learned that there was nothing more the doctors could do to save his leg. Now, he had a new battle to fight.
Chuck admits, "It was a little devastating, but I couldn't live with the pain anymore." Coping with this decision while still going through cancer treatment left us wondering how Chuck coped with everything. "Once you accept the situation and realize there is nothing you could have done to prevent this, you realize it's not the end of the world. Other people have been through it. Tim [Riedlinger] said it best when he told us, 'Losing your leg does not define you as an individual.' Tim, Megan, and Jaimie came to the hospital and even to all my doctor's appointments. It really helps! As far as Optimus goes, they were there every step of the way, even before my surgery. That helps you get through it." Chuck admits that much of the battle is mental and cautions those walking through the journey of limb loss, "You will have peaks and valleys, but you CAN do it! You will get out of this what you put into it. Put in the hard work and effort, and you will be rewarded!"
Now, nearly 6 months post-op, Chuck has his prosthesis, and it has given him a new lease on life. Chuck confessed that his primary concern after amputation was how his limb-loss would affect those around him. He knew he would need more help from others and would have to make some major modifications to his everyday routine. However, having his prosthesis has allowed him to maintain his independence and allows him not to be restricted to a wheelchair. "It's about quality of life! Little things like being able to stand and look someone in the eye rather than looking up at them from a wheelchair, they mean so much. I believe everybody who wants to should be given the opportunity to get a prosthesis and walk again!"
Chuck credits his success to support from his family, from Optimus, from his physical therapy team, and also his ability to focus on achieving his goals. Unfortunately, the form of cancer that Chuck has is incurable. However, this motivates Chuck to keep pushing himself to reach his goals. As he puts it, "I'm in a hurry! I gotta get up and go for it!" Chuck's amazing positive attitude inspires each of us.
We truly enjoy and are honored to be working with Chuck and his wife Donna, and the feeling is mutual. As the put it, "We absolute would recommend Optimus because of the support they have given us throughout this process. They reassured me [Chuck] many times along the way. We don't feel like a 'number' or rushed when we come into the office. You all take your time with us. When you walk in this door [to the office] you feel welcome. You feel like you are around family!" Chuck adds, "And I could not have asked for a better prosthetist than Jaimie! She is wonderful!